NGEE-Tropics focuses on the state-of-the-science measurements and model development most critical to projecting tropical forest carbon cycling and associated energy and water fluxes. Current Earth system models typically are simplistic in their representation of the processes controlling the tropical forest carbon cycling, and observational datasets to constrain model projections are insufficient, resulting in large uncertainties in projections of their responses to future climate scenarios. In addition, many models are built in a way that makes comparing simulations with field data extremely challenging.
NGEE-Tropics envisions a greatly improved predictive capacity for tropical forest responses and feedbacks to global change. This capacity requires the development and testing of model structures that reflect tree functional diversity, heterogeneity in plant resource availability and use, and an ability to carry out fully coupled simulations in E3SM. Model representation requires deep understanding of linked processes occurring at scales of individual trees, within dynamic forest functional communities, and across landscapes and regions subject to diverse disturbance regimes and environmental change. Along with our national and international partners, our NGEE-Tropics team is well positioned to deliver on this vision for a strong predictive capacity of tropical forest change and Earth system dynamics.
We have developed and are continuing to improve a new hierarchical, modular modeling platform, called E3SM-FATES (Energy Exascale Earth System Model – Functionally Assembled Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator), that integrates crucial processes of plant demography, ecophysiology, below-ground biogeochemistry, and aquifer-to-canopy hydrology. E3SM-FATES will enable an improved understanding of how diversity in plant functional traits govern the responses of tropical forest ecosystems to global changes, and ultimately determine tropical forest carbon, water, and energy feedbacks to the Earth system.
Figure. Representation of factors encompassed by the NGEE-Tropics model – E3SM-FATES (Functionally Assembled Terrestrial Ecosystem Simulator).
While NGEE-Tropics is focused on model development and testing for tropical forests, we are coordinating with global model advances taking place within DOE-supported projects, such as Energy Exascale Earth System Model (E3SM) and Interoperable Design of Extreme-scale Application Software (IDEAS), as well as with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and international collaborators.